The creditor, the collector, the collections letter

The amplification of calculative opacity |

Chapter 5 further pursues the issues examines in Chapter 4 by focusing on creditors’ own internal collections processes, while also opening up for view another central collections technology: the collections letter. In so doing, a key area it explores is the performative enactment of a separation between practices of ‘lending’ and ‘collections’, which will be key to understanding key aspects of the particular politics of consumer credit default. By dramatising a collections trajectory and examining the historical role of ‘trading styles’ in the UK collections industry, the chapter argues that this distinction itself comes to play a role in the creditor’s attempt to reactivate the attachments a debtor has to their debt. More particularly, I argue that the collector exploits the generative potential of ‘passing out’ a debt and convincing debtors that their accounts have left the safety of the lender and moved into the more threatening world of the collector. In a reflexive move, what are more conventionally seen as the ‘overflows’ of market making—the tendency for moral issues to be differentially articulated in different domains of market practice—are turned into a market opportunity.

[Text adapted from the introduction of Lived Economies of Default]